On March first 1919, after months of nationwide protests against Japan's ruthless colonial rule, Koreans declared their country free and independent.
With the March first movement as a catalyst, Korean independence activists in Shanghai established a provisional government in April the same year, nine years after Japan forcefully annexed Korea in 1910.
"There were at least eight provisional Korean governments in various regions, both domestically and abroad. Among which there were three main ones, namely the government in Shanghai, the Hanseong Government based in Seoul, and the National Council of Korea based in Vladivostok, Russia."
The provisional governments in Korea and Russia were watched closely by Japan, which worked to limit their activity.
That prompted the decision in September 1919 to join the three main ones together in Shanghai.
Experts say the Chinese city was chosen for geopolitical reasons.
"Shanghai was an ideal place for the establishment of the Provisional Government because it was an international city, a commercial and diplomatic hub. Also, it was governed by France at the time, which helped the independence activists carry on their movement out of Japan's immediate sight."
Thirteen years passed in Shanghai, but the Provisional Government had to keep moving to different Chinese cities like Changsha and Guangzhou to evade the constant threat of discovery and the Sino-Japanese war.
The final destination was Chongqing, where they stayed 'til November 1945.
The Provisional Government elected Rhee Syngman as its first president in 1919. An independence activist with a PhD from the United States, he later became the first president of South Korea in 1948.
The last president of the Provisional Government was nationalist Kim Koo, who thought the only way to take back Korea was through armed force.
After independence was won, Kim Koo fought against the country's looming division, until he was assassinated in 1949.
Experts say the legacy of the Provisional Government is the liberal democracy South Korea has today.
It paved the way to self-rule for Korea and its people.
"Nine years after the fall of the Korean Empire and its monarchy in August 1910, the Provisional Government was proclaimed. And in 1948, the South Korean Constitutional Assembly held on to the principles of the Provisional Government, which remain in place to this day."
South Korea also owes its official name to the Provisional Government -- the "Republic of Korea." It's national anthem, "Aegukga," also comes from the same period.
Cha Sang-mi, Arirang News.